East Riffa, reduced to nine men, beat Syrian club Tishreen 2-0 in an AFC Cup Group C match that pulsated with high drama, literally down to the last minute of the game late last night at the Muharraq Stadium.
The Bahraini club’s star Nigerian left-winger, Obus Prince Aggreh, was the hero of the night, scoring the second goal for his team after, earlier, having provided an assist for the first goal.
His side had been reduced to nine players on the field with two being sent off but that had not impeded East Riffa’s momentum. They displayed a more aggressive, coordinated approach last night compared to their performance in the 1-1 draw against Lebanese club, Nejmeh, on Wednesday.
The result means that East Riffa are level on four points with Nejmeh, who won 2-0 against Palestinian side, Hilal Al-Quds earlier in the evening at the same venue. Only one of these four teams will be able to qualify for the zonal semifinals later this year. The last two Group C matches are scheduled for Tuesday.
Tishreen were left to rue what could have been after a promising start to the game in which they dominated proceedings and kept East Riffa goalkeeper Hamad Aldoseri busy during most of the first half.
But all East Riffa needed was a whiff and, after defender Omar Duaij had been sent off in the 38th minute, they capitalised on their first proper opportunity when Aggreh dashed down the left flank and laid down a perfect cross which midfielder Sami Alhusaini headed past the scrambling Tishreen goalkeeper in the second minute of injury time in the first half.
Tishreen came back strongly in the second half, making several attempts at goal. But luck was not siding with them, with shots either going wide or bouncing off the goalpost.
East Riffa, who had been reduced to ten men because of Duaij’s red card, then suffered another blow when, with four minutes left to play, another defender, Mohamed Duaij, was sent off.
But soon, the match went into six minutes of injury time and Aggreh produced his second magical act of the night, sprinting to get to a pass from Ali Nasser Hasan and ramming it into the goal past a diving Ahmad Madanieh, the Tishreen goalkeeper.
Tishreen, then, threw everything into one last assault. But the resulting penalty, taken by Mohammed Alwakid bounced off the goalpost and, before long, the East Riffa players were celebrating a hard-earned victory.